Council opts out of medical marijuana

Published 9:50 am Friday, April 22, 2022

Tuesday night, the Picayune City Council held a public hearing to collect public comments on whether the Council should opt in or out of the state’s medical marijuana production and distribution program.

During the public hearing, only one person voiced an opinion, Brittany Loveless. During her speech, she asked the Council to consider opting in to the program. She said she is the mother of a child that suffers from seizures, and her daughter is currently taking two medications twice daily to alleviate the symptoms. However, those medications are causing other health problems, such as damage to her liver and teeth deformities.

The fear Loveless has is that her daughter will suffer from liver failure due to those medications, so she may have to be taken off them.

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Loveless said that if she had local access to marijuana drops, her daughter would see benefits from a medication that doesn’t damage her liver.

She closed by asking the Council to consider her daughter and others in the community like her.

After Loveless spoke, the Council closed the hearing and made a motion to opt out of the medical marijuana production and distribution program. All Councilors and the mayor approved the motion.

Opting out of the medical marijuana program will mean that grow sites, processing facilities and dispensaries will be unable to set up shop in the city limits of Picayune, however possession of medical marijuana with a state approved card provided by a medical professional is still legal.

Citizens have the option to file a petition with 1,200 signatures or 20 percent of the city’s registered voters to put the matter on a ballot. After a petition is certified, the city will have 60 days to hold an election. If that vote is in favor of opting in, the city will have no choice but to opt in.

In other business, the Council approved a motion to amend the budget resolution for April, 2022. During discussion of that matter, Connie Everett, a financial consultant from the South Mississippi Planning and Development District, said she presented the Council with a revised budget format that goes into more detail within each department. The more detailed document will inform the Council whether one project in a series of projects is actually in the red or black. She said when projects are grouped together as they have been previously, one of the projects could be under or over budget, but the Council would be unaware since the total shows everything is in line.

She also informed the Council that during this fiscal year, some earmarked state and federal funds were incorrectly placed in the general fund. Any restricted funds, such as the Internet sales tax diversions provided to the city, are supposed to be placed in separate accounts outside of the general fund.

Everett said the changes she brought to the Council will rectify any discrepancies from this fiscal year’s budget.

When Councilor Larry Breland asked if those changes will result in an increase to the budget, she said the Council may see some increases, especially in areas where the city created new positions within the city, such as the new Public Safety Division Director, unless funds were taken out of another lines item to pay for the new director. However, if funds are moved from one line item to another, the city’s financial personnel will need to disclose that by creating a new area in the budget and indicate it was not there previously.

After approving the budget resolution, the Council also approved motions to open the proper bank accounts for the state, federal and Internet sales tax funds.

Everettt said she was contracted by the city to assist with training the city’s new financial team. She said her comments focused on the current fiscal year.